Many people ask us questions about how to pick the right bread, when there is white bread, wholemeal bread, rye bread, sourdough bread, high fibre bread, iron fortified bread, wholegrain bread, low GI bread, omega-3 rich bread, or added calcium bread (just to name a few). With the variety which is available, it is understandable to be very overwhelmed by the choices available, but we’ll explore some helpful tips to make that trip down the bread aisle or to the bread shop a little easier.
Bread has gone through a lot of changes to get to what we know as bread today, bread wasn’t always the high and fluffy stuff we know it to be today. Humans have been making bread for around 30,000 years! The earliest kind of bread was flatbread, which is very similar to the Middle Eastern pita or Indian naan breads. When leavening agents such as yeast was discovered, and refined flour became a common thing instead of coarse flour which was ground up between rocks (very gritty and harder to chew), bread started to change into what we know it as, and we don’t even have to slice it anymore as that is mostly done for us to create smooth pieces of bread which don’t crumble everywhere. Overall, the taste of bread is something which has changed along with the changing shape and colour of bread, as it is more than a dietary staple these days.
Bread now is fortified with nutrients such as folic acid, thiamine, and iodine to bread flour in Australia (except organic products), which is to address population nutrient deficiencies which have existed in the past, and manufacturers can choose to add additional nutrients such as fibre, calcium, and iron.
Tip #1: check out the fibre content – this is not only important for keeping you full, but is also a great additional to your intake as it keeps your bowels running regularly. Choose a bread with 3g of fibre or more per serve (keeping in mind this may be counter as 2 slices).
Tip #2: look for the words “whole” or “wholegrain” – these breads usually look really grainy. When possible, choose a bread that is at least 51% wholegrains (you will have to read the ingredients list to find this out).
Tip #3: check the sodium content – aim to purchase a bread that contains less than 500mg of sodium per 100g. Lower values are better, but can often be very hard to find, and the bread often does not taste as nice.
Tip #4: beware of what the labels say – many breads will contain health claim material, such as “source” or “good source of —“, or that it is good for women’s health. Do your own research to make sure the bread is exactly what you are looking for.
Tip #5: average kilojoules per serve – the energy value of a slice of bread should be between 300-400kJ (70-100Cal), which for 2 slices, or a serve on the label, would be between 600-800kJ (140 – 200Cal). Depending on the seed content and thickness of the slice of bread, this can vary.
Tip #6: make sure it’s ok for your teeth – if you have any trouble with your teeth, a grainy bread may not be good for you. Choose a bread with the highest possible fibre content that doesn’t have seeds or grains and enjoy this instead.
Tip #7: decide what you like – as there is such a big variety of breads, it is always worth trying them to find one you enjoy having.
For any more advice, please feel free to book into see one of our Accredited Practising Dietitians.